15 Women Share Their Really Terrible First Job Stories

Wendy Robinson | May 23, 2016 Money

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One of the great milestones in life is getting your first paycheck. I still remember that excited feeling of getting that check and taking it down to the bank to deposit in my college fund. It felt so grown-up, even if it came from cleaning swimming pool gutters.

My first job didn't pay very well, but I enjoyed it and I loved getting that biweekly check.

Some women, however, aren't so lucky. From stories (way too many stories) about sexual harassment to the horror of cleaning public bathrooms, these are crazy tales of some of the worst first jobs out there. I think you'll agree that NO paycheck was worth keeping job #11!


Image via iStock.com/baona

  • No More Public Bathrooms


    "I worked at McDonald's in high school. That job gave me a very distinct professional goal: I needed a job that did not involve cleaning public restrooms." -- Kristy P., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Mr. Handsy


    "My first job was as an intern in a Congressional candidate's office. It seemed really exciting at first (especially since I was kind of obsessed with The West Wing at the time), but then I caught the eye of the guy who was running the office. He was super handsy with me and was always rubbing my shoulders and telling me I was pretty. I was 17 and he had a daughter older than me. It was so gross. I wasn't brave enough to stand up for myself, and I have a lot of regret about that now." -- Andrea W., Tampa, Florida

  • Hippie Cafe


    "I was working at this vegan, hippie cafe. The owner had this policy that all of the tips servers got would go into a communal pot and distributed evenly. He said it was to make sure we had a calm and non-competitive energy. It was actually because he was skimming money off the top. I lost so much money in tips that summer before we figured it out. The cafe went out of business a few years later. Karma, I think." -- Cate R., San Jose, California

  • Apple Orchard Blues


    "My first job was at an apple orchard, the fall when my very first boyfriend broke up with me and I was still learning to drive. I had to drive with my parents. I blasted angry breakup songs on my way to a job where I wore a hair net and packaged apple Danishes in the freezing cold. Bonus? I got to eat apply pie covered with caramel for lunch." -- Brooklyn P., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Overexposed


    "My first job was as a lifeguard in Arizona. I LOVED this job and did it for over five years. I'm only mentioning it as a horror story because I was young and dumb and didn't use sunscreen.

    I've had three bouts with skin cancer so far and have to get my skin checked every four months. That is a major long-term downside to a first job." -- Sarah D., Gilbert, Arizona

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  • A Hard Lesson


    "My first job was as a page at the library -- the perfect job for a bookish kid like me. My first job was perfect until I got fired for reading on the job too much. It took them less than two weeks to can me. Brutal. Those library bitches don't mess around when it comes to shelving books." -- Whitney S., Topeka, Kansas

  • DUI Dad


    "I babysat for a family every weekend. The mom and dad loved to go out and often came back smelling like booze. I was young and sheltered and had no idea that they were actually pretty damn drunk. They always drove me home and I thought the dad was just a really bad driver, until he got pulled over with me in the car. He got arrested for a DUI and the cops had to drop me off at home. My mom never let me babysit for them again." -- Chrissy D., Tucson, Arizona

  • Mean Girl


    "My first boss was a classic mean girl. She'd make fun of my clothes, say passive-aggressive things about me at meetings, and take credit for my work. She was a shrew and when I realized that I was actively hoping she'd lose a hand in the paper shredder, I knew it was time to quit." -- Elizabeth C., Denver, Colorado

  • Toughest Job


    "I was 17 years old when I became a nursing assistant on an end-stage dementia unit. I learned at a very young age how to wash old, saggy, wrinkly balls. I also have to say that flu season in a nursing home sucks." -- Allison L., Juneau, Alaska

  • Housekeeping


    "Mine was cleaning hotel rooms at a 5-star hotel. Pay was low, standards were high, coworkers were mean, and people do not tip as they said they would. I also had to pay for my own expensive uniform and shoes. I was too exhausted at the end of the day to move." -- Leslie B., Hudson, Wisconsin

  • Shared Bed?


    "I was 21 and a live-in nanny for a family who owned a pub outside of London. It was a comfy three-bedroom apartment above the pub. Free food from the pub's cook. Sounds great? It was ... until they lowered my pay, increased duties, eliminated the free food, AND informed me that Grandpa was moving in and would share a bedroom (and the double bed!) with me. Um, yes, resignation tendered." -- Marian S., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Gym Jerks


    "I was 16 when I got a job working at the front desk of a gym that was in an office building. Everyone who went to the gym worked at the office building, so it was a lot of corporate-type guys.

    I am not exaggerating when I say I got hit on by adult guys every single day and my boss encouraged me to wear short shorts to 'give them something to get motivated.' It was so gross." -- Tamara E., Brooklyn, New York

  • Overwhelmed


    "My first job was working for a non-profit that was doing a drive to register homeless people to vote. I think the work was important, but I was so overwhelmed. I was under-educated about mental illness and some of the people freaked me out. It was also in the dead of summer and I basically got heat stroke on the second day. I quit on day three." -- Susie W., Dallas, Texas

  • The Elf


    "I was 14. I was an elf for the guy with the beard who lived behind us who did private party Santa-ing during 'the season.' It sucked ass and my main job was to read him names off of presents because his Santa glasses weren't prescription. I got sexually harassed by drunk insurance agents having their party at the Sirloin Stockade who kept telling me to sit on their laps. It explains a lot about me." -- Carrie N., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Corny


    "When you are 14 and you live in Iowa, you have one job available to you: detasseling corn. The pay sucks, the working conditions are terrible, and you end up covered in bug bites and sunburned. I guess it builds character?" -- Erin T., Ames, Iowa